Is Fulfilment The Key To The Retail Omnichannel?

This post is by Liz Parry, Strategic Account Director at Teleperformance UK.

I read with interest a new report by research organisation Planet Retail just published in European Supermarket Magazine suggests that the answer to retail omnichannel success lies in getting fulfilment right. But that’s not all. The research identifies six key areas where retailers need to focus their omnichannel efforts:

“…provide seamless online experiences, empower smartphone users, create a compelling in-store environment, contextualised and personalised shopping, social media can influence purchasing decisions, and fulfilment capabilities are a competitive differentiator.”

Omnichannel has moved on quickly in the past year or so to be something that retailers could plan for to an expectation that customers have right now. Half of all shoppers now have an expectation that the delivery time for products will be same-day or next-day so getting the fulfilment chain right is vital to meeting these demands.

Getting this right can be more complex when you don’t have much control over some parts of the fulfilment chain – the postal service for example. However, retails who will succeed at this need to start enforcing standards even on areas where they felt they had little influencer before.

The issue is that when the online shopping environment is blended with a branch network it becomes very difficult to create a consolidated and real-time view of your inventory to any level of accuracy. Without accuracy in this data it is impossible to make promises to customers that services such as store pick-up or click-and-collect with actually work.

I believe the only real answer is to stop considering that the omnichannel is something you can spend a lot of time planning for. This is how customers expect to shop right now. To make the fulfilment function work correctly requires a strategy of unified standards for inventory identification, but these standards, procedures, and customer interactions need to be planned for now.

With half of all shoppers expecting almost immediate delivery right now, how much longer to retailers have to catch up? I predict that if companies are not serious about the omnichannel this year then it may be too late. Customers will not wait weeks for products to be delivered and they will not tolerate it when their online purchases cannot be collected at stores because the systems don’t talk to each other – I know I certainly don’t!

2015 is the year when every retailer needs to get serious about the retail omnichannel.

What do you think about the omnichannel? Please leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.

Royal Mail MT54TJV


Photo by Graham Richardson licensed under Creative Commons

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